Dive Shop
Featured Products

Mares Pure BCD with SLS Weight System
Mares Pure BCD with SLS Weight System
$699.00 $629.00
Get $70.00 (10%) Off

Light & Motion GoBe S 1000 Wide Beam Dive Light FC
Light & Motion GoBe S 1000 Wide Beam Dive Light FC
$279.00 $251.00
Get $28.00 (10%) Off

Sonar Mini Button Tech SPG - 350 bar
Sonar Mini Button Tech SPG - 350 bar
$55.00 $50.00
Get $5.00 (9%) Off

Chinamans Hat

OtherOther | Boat access

Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated

Depth: 2 metres (6.6 feet) to 12 metres (39 feet)

Snorkel or Dive With Australian Fur Seals

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Unknown

Chinaman's Hat is an octagonal structure serving as a shipping channel marker and haul-out for local Australian fur seals, near the South Channel of Port Phillip. Earlier structures on the site once served as navigation beacons. In early 2002 the old structure was demolished and a new one built nearby.


The term Chinaman's Hat is the local name once associated with the site of a former military structure, Station M, but now transferred to a new seal platform erected by Victoria's Park Authority in 2002. The postwar structure was built to replace a dilapidated military installation erected as part of the Port Phillip defence system shortly before 1942.

Parks Victoria was granted a permit in early 2002 to demolish the old structure after arguing that it posed a risk for small craft navigation and was devoid of heritage value. In the face of public protests, the Authority went ahead and built an expensive alternative platform which was quickly disparaged by critics at the time as a veritable 'Taj Mahal for seals'.

Seal Paradise

Australian Fur Seal
Australian Fur Seal
© Julian Finn, Museums Victoria

This new Chinaman's Hat structure for the seal colony lies not far from the Mud Islands bird sanctuary. Chinamans Hat is also a minor roosting site for cormorants and other diving birds.

Initially the Australia fur seals gave the new structure the cold shoulder and refused to budge from their traditional, run-down landmark. It was only after the authorities proceeded to demolish the old haul out that they settled on the new platform, giving it their seal of approval. It's this new structure which now carries the name Chinaman's Hat.

The seals need to haul out of the water and have a deep sleep every few weeks after days of fishing. During this time they generally spend time scratching themselves and romping with each other. Unlike most seals, Australian fur seals like touching each other.

Diving and Snorkelling

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Dolphin Research Institute

Australian fur seals can be found sunning themselves at Chinaman's Hat. Together with Popes Eys and other structures and buoys, Chinaman's Hat is a popular haul out or resting site in the bay, and is occupied by a bachelor community of the Australian fur seals. It is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. Visitors to the site are warned to keep their distance, since the seals can at times behave aggressively towards people who approach too close.

See WillyWeather as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.

Safety: At boat ramps or other manmade structures such as Chinaman's Hat, you must stay at least five metres away from seals. Never attempt to feed seals. See Encountering seals for more information.

Latitude: 38° 17.385′ S   (38.28975° S / 38° 17′ 23.1″ S)
Longitude: 144° 43.515′ E   (144.72525° E / 144° 43′ 30.9″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 01:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2019-12-13 03:32:51 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: William Salthouse, 2,547 m, bearing 319°, NW
Depth: 2 to 12 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.

The Scuba Doctor Service and Repairs

Some girls go swimming. Real girls go scuba diving.
— Old diver's proverb